Wednesday, January 19, 2011

One if by Land, Two if by Sea, Three if no We

Because you are a fan of the Paper Texan, you already know that "the thrilling experience of victory in competition is necessarily preceded by the genuine satisfaction that comes from having prepared for it." That's the kind of genius you usually can't get without shelling out $40-$50 for an excellent book on leadership in the NFL along the lines of "Coaching Matters", a wonderful read that recounts the qualities in common of great coaches in the history of, say it like Cosell, the National Football League.

Of late especially, one Bill Belichick has been figuratively fitted for his tuxedo for induction into the fictitious Hall of Fame of Coaches based on both his style and perhaps directly resulting successes in New England. And in the face of the Rex Ryan-led Jets' antithesis of the Foxborough Format made famous by the current regime, the Patriots blinked at the challenge to their once impenetrable fortress of singularly stodgy, stuffy, and sterile solitude of silence.

One by one, the Patriots' stars fell prey to the prank of participation in the school yard-styled slings of insults and cat calls, some even then falling under the wrath of Coach Belichick who briefly benched warrior and Tom Brady's Novacek-esque security blanket Wes Welker.

Athletes, especially great receivers, rely not only on the continuity and sacred system of repetition of preparation for games, they require it for anything close to the kind of performance necessary for contribution to a win in the NFL Playoffs.

Some may point to the players who blinked and lost focus by being engaged in the theatrical, if immature and tiring, distractions of the New York Jets. But I say it was Belichick himself. By benching Welker, Belichick threw Welker off of his game, and by the time he entered the contest, he was not the same player to whom we have grown accustomed. Uninspired route running, failed execution, and even dropped touchdown passes. Does that sound like the Wes Welker you know?

For the week leading up to the game, the Jets spoke of how "We were going to..." such and such, and the Patriots spoke of how they as individuals reacted. And Belichick divided his team and its talents even further.

Who would have thought Belichick being referenced by "Coaching Matters" would be a cautionary tale of the importance of not just keeping your team's head in the game, but as its leader, your own as well.

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